Sprung from Thomasina Miers’ passion for Mexican cuisine (winner of 2005’s MasterChef), Wahaca has been putting down roots across the UK since 2007, opening venues in London, Brighton, Manchester and our wonderful city of Bristol. Last week it was my turn to embrace the “year of the taco” and review Wahaca’s branch on the Clifton Triangle, so armed with a carton of milk (for the spice) and a fellow taco enthusiast, off I went to sample their cheesey, meaty, spicy offerings.
With giant birdcage-looking seats dangling near the entrance, the whole frontage of the venue was wide open when we arrived, the doors pushed back to let the summer breeze in. Large potted ferns and brightly coloured murals on the walls instantly gave the venue a sense of character whilst the layout of the deceptively large venue kept things feeling intimate and cosy.
Our waiter Peter was the guy who got our experience at Wahaca off to the best start though. Full of enthusiasm and general banter, Peter gave us by far one of the best service experiences I’ve had and instantly put us at ease. As he talked us through the menu and introduced himself with a scribble of his name on our paper menu, we couldn’t help but find his cheery nature infectious!
With a vast selection of cocktails, beers and of course – tequila, Wahaca certainly don’t scrimp on choice when it comes to drinks and better still, they don’t charge you unreasonable amounts for it either. Coming in at around £7 for a cocktail, I was very impressed with the prices of their drinks and their Strawberry and daiquiri cocktail was insane! My Passion fruit vanilla mojito was pretty tasty too. It had the desired boozy kick but it was super refreshing and fruity too. If you’re more of a tequila person like my companion for that evening, you’ll also be pleased to know that whilst real tequila must contain at least 51% blue agave, Wahaca serves only 100% in their tequila. Drink with caution. I warn you now.
Street Food Small Plates
Skipping past the “Nibbles” section which boasted tortilla chips, pulled pork scratchings, guacamole and frijoles we dove straight in to the largest section of Wahaca’s extensive menu, their street food. The smaller plates gave us the chance to try lots of different things rather than have one main meal and try lots of different things we did. In total we had 8 different dishes between the two of us and quite successfully polished the lot.
Like a tapas joint, the staff brought us our small plates as and when they were ready which kept a flow of food coming to the table as we finished off the round before, a style of eating which I quite enjoy as you never know what’s coming next. We started with the soft corn tortilla tacos which were served on metal zig-zag plates to keep the fillings trapped inside. Of the three tacos we sampled, the Grilled British Steak with chipotle salsa (£4.50), the Pork Pibil with fiery pickled onions and Yucatan marinade (£4.25) and a more sweet Plantain based taco(£3.95) – (with a very spicy aftertaste might I add) the 5 hour braised pork pibil was probably my favourite. I also loved the plantain, though I couldn’t quite handle the heat that followed after!
Up next was the Sweet potato and feta (£3.95), the highlight of the meal for me. I mean, just look at it, it was just a beautiful thing to behold. The crispy blue corn held the roasted potato, creamy feta and caramelised onion together in one fine tasting wrap; the salsas and mayo blended together on the plate to create a deliciously tangy sauce. I was continuously running my finger around the edge of the plate to ensure I’d consumed every last bit of it.
The quesadillas on the other hand, were a bit of a disappointment. Under recommendation, we went for the Chorizo and potato (£4.25) which arrived in a basket chopped in two halves but it seriously lacked flavour. I couldn’t even taste the chorizo, only mozzarella. It was just a bit bland which was a shame given the incredible flavours of everything else we’d had.
Finally, we rounded off our Mexican feasting with sweet toasted cornbread and chipotle honey butter (£3.50). Whilst my more savoury-orientated companion wasn’t too keen on the cornbread I adored it, the subtle flavour of the whipped goats cheese and the warm, sweet butter creating a delightful sensation on the palate. It felt more like a dessert than a dinner dish which worked out well because by the end, we couldn’t quite face dessert – shameful I know. I’ll do better next time I promise!
I had a great first experience of Wahaca, it was great to try a cuisine which is less commonly found in Bristol and the upbeat atmosphere and the genuine enthusiasm of the staff was brilliant for a Friday night. Wahaca was well and truly “fun” in every sense without feeling corny or fake and the colourful food certainly kept with the vibrant themes of the place. An absolute cracker of an evening. I will be returning for more of Wahaca’s tacos and definitely more of their cocktails!
70-78 Queens Rd, Bristol BS8 1QU
Please note: Whilst I was invited to visit Wahaca and was provided with complimentary meals, this in no way impacted upon my opinions given in this review. Rights to the photography also belong to me.